It must be hard being Zuckerberg sometimes. That is when you aren’t reaping the massive income of creating the social media network. The VR gamble is proving to be a lot more difficult for Facebook than it really should be. First, we had Palmer Luckey’s dalliance with the alt-right. Then, Facebook and Oculus lose their court case with Zenimax that could do lasting damage to the corporate image. Now to add insult to injury demo units of the Oculus Rift are disappearing from stores in the United States.
Oculus’ disappearing act
Last year Facebook realised that the best way to market Virtual Reality would be to let people try it out for themselves. That makes sense because it is a very personal experience. Watching videos online doesn’t do the medium justice in any way. Facebook struck a deal with American chain retail store Best Buy to open up demo stations across the country. According to Business Insider, only 48 stores began demo stalls when the deal was first signed in April 2016. At its peak, there were 500 stores which offered these demo units.
However, news has come that 200 of these demo stations will close down. The reason behind this closure is simply that no-one is interested. Respondents to the Business Insider article reported not giving demos for days at a time. Even during the Christmas period, foot traffic and interest were not very high. As a result, Facebook and Best Buy are closing 200 of the 500 installations. Despite this, Oculus is still confident in selling product. Spokesperson Andrea Shubert said to Business Insider, “We still believe the best way to learn about VR is through a live demo. We’re going to find opportunities to do regular events and pop-ups in retail locations and local communities throughout the year.”
Should we be worried?
It would be easy to point at this and say that VR is already failing. Indeed, there are plenty of think pieces believing that VR is destined for failure. However, a decrease in luxuries like VR headsets is to be expected after the holiday season. Closing down demo stations are not a sign that sales are decreasing, and Best Buy has said that they will still be selling Rift Units at the same locations. However, it has not been a good month of headlines for Facebook.
Source: Business Insider